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DeSantis lashes out at audience member over Jacksonville shooting – POLITICO

Published September 7, 2023 By admin

MIAMI — Republican Gov. Ron DeSantis got into a heated argument during a press conference on Thursday with an audience member who blamed him for a recent racially motivated mass shooting that left three Black people dead.

“You don’t get to come here and blame me for some madman,” DeSantis said, raising his voice and becoming visibly angry. “That is not appropriate and I’m not going to accept it.”

DeSantis’ team has been defensive on social media and in news articles following similar accusations from state Democrats, Black leaders and the White House after a white gunman initially targeted a historically Black college then committed the murders in a nearby store in Jacksonville, Fla., before killing himself.

Thursday’s argument became particularly heated when the audience member, who was unidentified, accused DeSantis of allowing “people to hunt people like me.”

“Oh, that is nonsense. That is such nonsense!” DeSantis yelled back during the press conference, which took place in Jacksonville. He then touted his record on law enforcement and his bonuses for police officers who move to the state.

The roughly three-minute exchange initially started out cordial, with both men thanking each other for their military service. The man, who wasn’t pictured in the video but according to the governor’s office was standing in the back near journalists, accused the governor of backing policies that “hurt people like myself” and said weapons go to “hateful people.”

He then raised the mass shooting, but DeSantis stopped him and shot back: “I’m not going to let you accuse me of committing criminal activity. I am not going to take that.”

The governor then raised the fact that the accused 21-year-old gunman, Ryan Palmeter, had a history of mental illness. Police reported he was involuntarily institutionalized for emergency mental health services as a teenager.

“He should have been ruled ineligible,” DeSantis said. “But they didn’t involuntarily commit him.” As the man began to talk back, DeSantis interrupted him and said: “There is the truth. There is something about the truth. It’s not — everyone doesn’t have their own truth.”

DeSantis didn’t mention that Palmeter also had had a racist manifesto and drew swastikas on his weapons.

Democrats have similarly accused DeSantis of creating an environment in Florida that allowed the shooting to take place. They specifically blame policies such as loosening gun laws and ending diversity programs, as well as his ban of what he calls “critical race theory” in schools, referring to progressive viewpoints on racial relations.

Some Black Floridians jeered and booed DeSantis when he attended a vigil for the deceased, pledging security funding and telling the audience “targeting people due to their race has no place in this state of Florida.”

At the end of the press conference, Florida surgeon general Joe Ladapo, who is Black, called on the audience to wait before exiting. With DeSantis standing next to him behind the lectern, he called the man who DeSantis argued with “totally insane” and praised DeSantis as a “good man.”

“It’s terrible that people take advantage of the fact that he’s a different color from the poor victims of that tragedy to try and tie him into it,” Ladapo said.

SOURCE: Politico


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